WA FARMERS have come out swinging against Coles, vowing to boycott all products offered by the supermarket giant.
Perth Now reports that the move is aimed at "predatory pricing" by Coles, which has led the way in driving down the cost of fresh produce for shoppers, but put pressure on farmers' bottom line.
At the WA Farmers Federation annual conference this week, the WA Farmers Dairy Council voted to encourage members and the farming community to "boycott Coles supermarkets and all Wesfarmers subsidiaries".
Attempting to hit the Perth-based conglomerate where it really hurts, the motion placed "particular emphasis" on the company's chemical and fertiliser division, CSBP, and its insurance division, WFI.
Tensions between farmers and big chain supermarkets, such as Coles and Woolworths, have been high after the pair cut prices on their fresh food produce to win over customers.
WA Farmers Dairy Council spokesman Greg Chapman said the "predatory pricing policy" resulted in an 8 per cent drop in milk production in the state, resulting in milk being shipped in from South Australia.
The WA dairy industry is estimated to have lost $25 million because of cut prices, though Coles corporate affairs manager Robert Hadler denied that impact during the conference.
"It will destroy an industry in this state if it's not curtailed," Mr Chapman said.
The Busselton dairy farmer said the industry had done all it could to "talk and reason" with Coles and Wesfarmers, but had no success.
"(We) ask for your support to say 'enough is enough'," he said. "Let them know we can fight back and we are prepared to fight back."
Not all were convinced by the motion with some arguing it needed to include Woolworths, IGA and any other supermarkets that also dropped the price of milk to $1 a litre.
But, the farmers voted to send the motion to the executive committee, which would decide how best to implement the boycott so it had the most impact.
Earlier at the conference, Mr Hadler defended the retailer's decision to cut prices on fresh produce arguing it resulted in more sales, which was good for WA farmers.
"We don't want to hurt you," he said.
He told farmers the lack of transparency in the agriculture supply chain meant there were lots of myths about the impact of slashed prices.
If Coles did not cut prices, he said, consumers would go elsewhere and Coles would go out of business, leaving 11,000 West Australians out of work.
One farmer vehemently refuted that argument and believed that without Coles, fresh produce would just be sold by other retailers.
Read more at Perth Now